Courtesy Reuters

European Self-Reliance and the Reform of NATO

The security of Western Europe requires us to explore a radically new line of policy to which, in the present debate about this subject, little attention has so far been paid.1

In this debate, two points of view are predominant. On the one hand, entrenched in government circles, there are the Atlanticists, who seek to recall us to the old verities of the Alliance: preservation of the existing structure of NATO, support for American efforts to maintain the nuclear balance, maintenance of a strong defense posture toward the East. On the other hand, acting as a powerful influence in public opinion, at least in all the northern European countries belonging to NATO, there are the Neutralists, who favor total or partial withdrawal from the Alliance, unilateral nuclear disarmament and expulsion of foreign nuclear bases, and, in some cases, reduction of conventional defense expenditure. We need, I believe, to examine a third alternative that would recognize the necessity for a more independent posture for Western Europe, but seek to base this on strength rather than on weakness. I call this a Europeanist alternative. It does not imply the break-up of NATO, but it does require its reform: the transfer from North American to European hands of a greater share of the burden of European defense, and along with it of a greater share of responsibility for decisions. In what follows I seek to show why this new policy should be pursued, what it would involve and how one might grapple with the difficulties to which it would lead, which I do not wish to disguise.


There are three reasons why the countries of Western Europe should explore a Europeanist approach to their security. First, the old formulas of North Atlantic unity do not adequately recognize the differences of interest, both real and perceived, that divide the United States from its European partners. There are differences over trade, made more urgent by the recession and more visible by the fact that the

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